Catherine Called Birdy: On the red carpet with Bella Ramsey, Joe Alwyn, Andrew Scott and Lena Dunham
A 13th century England-set coming-of-age comedy is perhaps not the likely basis of a third feature film to come from New York-born Girls creator and star Lena Dunham. And yet, this lovingly made adaptation of Karen Cushman’s young adult novel Catherine Called Birdy is a joyful success.
In Dunham’s hands, there’s a playful and candid approach to proceedings as we follow young tween Catherine, nicknamed Birdy, whose carefree years as a child running wild in the village threaten to come to a shrieking halt when her period arrives – and with it the prospect of being married off so that her debt-ridden and morally bankrupt father can cash in on her dowry.
Taking full advantage of the story’s medieval setting for its mud and animal excrement, as well as an eclectic cast of some of Britain’s best in Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as Birdy, Andrew Scott as Lord Rollo (her flamboyant father), Billie Piper as her mother, and the likes of Joe Alwyn as her friend (and crush), there’s a levity and a charming innocence to this movie that sits in contrast with other coming-of-age tales. 1290 and 2022 collide, not only through the pop-infused soundtrack (Piper fans of the 90s should listen out for Honey to the Bee), but in the firmly feminist lens that sends out the message to always be yourself and resist the forces telling you to behave otherwise.
The Upcoming had the chance to rub shoulders with the cast and director at the film’s UK premiere at the Curzon Mayfair in London. Dunham spoke about how the novel was one of her favourites growing up, so an adaptation had long been an ambition of hers.
Bella Ramsey, donning a slick twist on a tuxedo, shared what appealed to her about playing Birdy and the fun she had working with Dunham and her costars.
The charming Andrew Scott told us about the joys of playing the rather dubious father figure of Lord Rollo and forever being known as the “hot priest”.
A dashing Joe Alwyn also stopped to chat about his role in the film and his thoughts on Ramsey’s performance.
Isis Hainsworth shared her insights into her character Aelis and life on a medieval set.
And Rita Bernand-Shaw told us about her character Meg and the importance of the story, especially for young women.
Archie Renaux described the highs and lows of playing a monk.
While Michael Woolfitt talked about his experiences being part of an incredible ensemble cast.
We were also treated to a quick chat with wonderful singer-songwriter Birdy, who pointed out the name of the film chiming with her own was purely coincidental, plus the fact that new music is in the works for release as her fifth album next year.
Catch more of the red carpet moments below.
Catherine Called Birdy is released in select cinemas on 23rd September and on Amazon Prime Video on 7th October 2022.
Watch the trailer for Catherine Called Birdy here: